What a great surprise. When Hollywood screenwriter Zak Penn decided it was high time he made the leap from frustrated Hollywood screenwriter (X2, SUSPECT ZERO) to director, he found his own financing for his own script and some how managed to wrangle German director Werner Herzog into a starring role. The result is a smart mockumentary that isn't the one long inside joke that you might expect from a Hollywood insider. It's actually a clever commentary on documentary filmmaking, an pretty good monster movie to boot. The film purports to be a real documentary about an incident that occurred on Scotland's Loch Ness assembled mostly out of the remnants of another aborted documentary titled "Herzog in Wonderland" that filmmaker John Bailey was shooting at the time. Bailey and his small crew were filming Herzog as he set about making of his own documentary, "The Enigma of Loch Ness." Long fascinated by the differences between facts and the deeper "ecstatic truths" he believes are tapped by our collective myths and legends, Herzog planned on traveling to Inverness, Scotland, in hopes of exploring the modern need to believe in something as absurd as Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. Whether or not the creature actually exists is of no concern to Herzog. The film's producer, Zack Penn (like nearly everyone else in this largely improvised film, he plays a fictionalized version of himself), however, has an entirely different movie in mind, only he's not telling Herzog. Desperate for industry credibility, Penn wants to make a bankable documentary in which the great Werner Herzog captures the mythical Loch Ness Monster on film, even if it means having to fake things a bit. Caught in between is the film's cinematographer, Gabriel Beristain, who thinks he's going to be shooting a documentary featuring fictional recreations of actual Nessie sightings. Confused? Suffice it to say that once something does rear its scaly head out of Loch Ness, no one's quite sure of the reality of what they're seeing. The mockumentary format has been done to death since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but never as good, and besides, the real treat here is Herzog himself. Anyone who's seen Les Blank's documentary short "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" knows that the great auteur of the New German Cinema is not only a terrific sport, but a comedian with a priceless poker-face that Penn uses to hilarious effect.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: What a great surprise. When Hollywood screenwriter Zak Penn decided it was high time he made the leap from frustrated Hollywood screenwriter (X2, SUSPECT ZERO) to director, he found his own financing for his own script and some how managed to wrangle Germa… (more)